The National Assembly of Bhutan has taken a first step toward lifting the country’s ban on tobacco products, reports East Mojo.
Passed on June 25, the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Bill 2021 and Tax Bill of Bhutan 2021 would legalize the selling, buying, possession, distribution and transportation of tobacco and tobacco products in the country. Manufacturing tobacco would remain illegal, however.
By legalizing tobacco, legislators hope to help check the spread of Covid-19, which they believe has been worsened by the continuous smuggling of tobacco products through Bhutan’s porous southern border.
The act also mandates that the government provide counselling and treatment to facilitate tobacco cessation. Premised on the physical health and well-being of the Bhutanese people, the legislation recognizes the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke on both spiritual and social health.
The bill will now be referred to the National Council for endorsement.
Bhutan banned tobacco sales in December 2004. Tobacco Reporter was the first to report from the world’s only officially smoke-free nation.